Saudi Arabia urges Qatar to close Al-Jazeera

Saudi Arabia urges Qatar to close Al-Jazeera
Sun Mar 16, 2014 11:33:06

Saudi Arabia has demanded that Qatar shut down Al-Jazeera satellite network and two think tanks during a recent meeting of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council.

Riyadh demanded the closure of the pan-Arab broadcaster as well as the Brookings Doha Centre and the Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies, a source close to PGCC officials said.

After the reportedly heated March 5 PGCC meeting, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates recalled their ambassadors from fellow member Qatar, which they accuse of interfering in their internal affairs and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.

The source said Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal had demanded three things of Doha — “to close the (Qatari-owned) Al-Jazeera network, which stirs sedition; close the research centers in Doha, and turn over all outlaws” on its territory.

Doha’s foreign minister replied that the demand constituted “interference in Qatar’s internal affairs,” the same source said.

Qatar is seen as a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates across the region, which are banned in most Persian Gulf states.

Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf Arab states have long been hostile toward the Brotherhood, fearing that its brand of grass-roots activism could undermine their authority.

Saudi Arabia and the other two states accused Doha of giving refuge to opposition figures and of even giving some of them citizenship.

Critics have long accused the influential pan-Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera of biased coverage in favor of the Brotherhood, and several of its journalists are on trial in Egypt for allegedly supporting the group.

Some Persian Gulf states hailed the Egyptian military’s July overthrow of president Mohammad Mursi — a former senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood — and pledged billions in aid. Qatar, which had strongly supported him, has seen its influence in Cairo evaporates.


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